222. Jean-Charles Chabot Explores Spiritual Hypnosis

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Interview with hypnotherapist Jean-Charles Chabot examines the use of hypnotic regression for spiritual growth.

Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Montreal-based hypnotherapist Jean-Charles Chabot.  During the interview Chabot talks about the use of regression therapy in overcoming phobias:

Alex Tsakiris:   Can you give us a quick example of a case where there was a memory from early in life, and they forgot about it, and then once they remembered it resolved some phobia for them.

Jean-Charles Chabot:   I’ll give you a couple of examples, one with regression in this life, and one in a past life.  For example, a person had a fear of spiders. She said, “I don’t remember anything about what could explain this fear of spiders.” She couldn’t get close to a spider. So I brought her into an altered state of consciousness and I asked the unconscious mind to go back.

So the first event the person went to was when she was young, lying beside a pool. She’d just gotten out of the water and there were drops of water dripping down her body. At some point there was some itching and there was a spider there. She just freaked at that point.

Then what we usually do is we can ask the person a question, and say, “I don’t want you to think. I want you to feel. Does this emotion feel new like oh my god, what is this? Or does it feel familiar, like oh, not again?”

It was familiar to her so I said, “Okay, now we’re going all the way back to the source.” What was very interesting was that she was about two years old and she was playing with a spider that was on her. When you’re one or two years old it doesn’t matter, right? It’s just a spider; there’s nothing wrong. She takes the spider and she puts it in her mouth. For a kid, no problem. But the problem was when the mother saw this and said, “No!” And then, boom, association of spider and dangerous, spider bad, mommy doesn’t like it so I shouldn’t like it. That’s where it all started.

It’s very interesting when you have things like that that you understand where it comes from and you can do some techniques. One technique among others is the “informed child,” where you instruct the child what he would have needed to know to be conditioned by this and then we eradiate this knowledge. There are many things you can do.

Alex Tsakiris:   Were you able to help her over her phobia, then?

Jean-Charles Chabot:   Oh, yeah. It was really interesting because afterwards for me, I like to test my work. Afterwards we went into the basement looking for spiders. We found some little spiders and she could have them on her finger and she was like, “Oh my god, I never did that before.” It was really amazing.

I said, “Okay, let’s take it a step higher. Let’s go to the pet shop. I had in mind like these tarantulas, those big spiders. I didn’t know they were really dangerous, so I just went to the counter and asked if it was possible to look at the tarantulas, to clear it with them. The people at the counter were like, “I’m not touching those. They can sting.  They can really hurt. They won’t kill you but they can really, really hurt.” Then the owner came and said, “Oh, they’re really nice. As long as you don’t do anything that irritates them, like blowing on them or sudden moves or stuff, it’s all fine.” So he took a spider and told her to put her hand like a bridge. The spider came and she just had this amazing feeling of oh my god, this is amazing. She could do it without any problem.

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Welcome to Skeptiko, where we explore controversial science with leading researchers, thinkers, and their critics. Today, hypnosis. In fact, a very controversial area of hypnosis—past life and between life regression, where people purport to recall and recover memories of living in a previous life, or the time they spent between lives. Quite out there, if you will, so before I start with this interview I thought I’d share a little bit about the path that I’ve taken in trying to get my arms around this topic.

Let’s start with reincarnation. Obviously, billions of people believe reincarnation is true. Moreover, thousands of people have reported personal experiences or memories suggesting that it’s true. Is there any scientific evidence for this? Now since I know the Skeptiko audience, I know that a lot of you know that there’s actually quite a bit of very good evidence.

Ian Stevenson, before he passed away, really pioneered this work at the University of Virginia. He’s been lauded for the methodology that he used and he produced some very, very significant results that have really convinced a lot of people. You’ve heard some on this show that were skeptical initially but said, “Wow, this is good work. It’s hard to look past this data.” That work’s been continued by Dr. Jim Tucker and others at the University of Virginia, and others in other institutions. So there’s reason to suspect that all these personal experiences might have some legitimacy behind them. Scientific legitimacy.

Now, the skeptical response to all this—and when I say skeptical I mean mainstream science—their response has been to basically ignore the data and insist that it can’t be true because you’re a biological robot. Really, folks, that is the sum total of the response. Just ignore the data.

But if we move past that “ignore the data” kind of position and accept that there’s some solid evidence to at least investigate this topic, then we next have to turn to the topic of hypnosis and ask whether hypnosis can play a role in recovering these memories. Now that turns out to be a very interesting question. In fact, the whole area of hypnosis is another one of these topics that you think you know about but you don’t realize until you dig into it that there’s this whole hidden culture war debate associated with it.  And, I think it’s really interesting to understand the skeptical position because I think it ties back to so many things I’ve been talking about the last few shows. I know some of you get tired of me ranting and going on and on about “biological robots” and “mind=brain”, but I have to insist that it just keeps popping up everywhere, whether you want it to or not. And it certainly does in the case of hypnosis.

Let me give you an example. Take this quote from Scott Lilienfeld, Professor of Psychology at Emory University, Fellow at the ultra-skeptical, James Randi cultish, Atheist organization, Center for Inquiry. He also writes for Scientific American, where he’s one of their board of advisors. If that rings a bell with the secret scientific board of advisors that censored Rupert Sheldrake and Graham Hancock, you kind of get a feel for what’s going on here.

In 2009, he wrote an article in Scientific American titled, “Is Hypnosis a Distinct Form of Consciousness? “ In it, he writes: “This issue (that is whether hypnosis is a distinct form of consciousness) is of more than academic importance. If hypnosis differs in kind rather than in degree from ordinary consciousness, it could imply that hypnotized people can take actions that are impossible to perform in the waking state. It could also lend credibility to claims that hypnosis is a unique means of reducing pain or effecting dramatic psychological and medical cures.”

Did you catch that? It’s very subtle. I mean, who cares if hypnosis is a distinct form of consciousness? And who cares if it’s a unique means of reducing pain? We just care if it reduces pain, right? Wrong. What we care about is that you keep thinking you’re a biological robot. What we care about is that there’s no cracks in the mind equals brain mantra. And hypnosis, if it’s a distinct form of consciousness, creates some interesting cracks in that mind equals brain mantra.

I think the best Skeptiko guest to point this out is University of Montreal professor, Dr. Mario Beauregard, who wrote a very interesting book called, Brain Wars. We had him on and he touched on this topic.

If you dive into his book, you’ll see study after study that he cites that directly contradicts this idea that there’s nothing special about hypnosis, that it’s not unique in any way, it’s not really creating a different mental state of consciousness. And the studies that he cites are overwhelmingly suggestive.

For example, they did hypnotic regressions and they told people to increase bone growth in a particular area. Then they’d go and x-ray them after. They have physicians who don’t know which is the controlled group and which is not and they analyze the x-rays. They say, “Yes, this group has more bone growth,” and that’s the group that was under hypnotic suggestion (one such study). There’s no way we know that people can do that consciously. Yet that shows up again and again.

Of course, you know this is true anyway because you’ve seen it on stage where a hypnotist can hypnotize somebody and cause their finger to blister. This is really the same thing. So again, the pattern is repeated where the skeptical argument tells you the old who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes? You’ve seen this; you know this is true. And yet the skeptical argument is telling you no, no, no. It can’t be true. Don’t trust your experience. Don’t trust what other people have experienced. Believe me. Believe me.

Beauregard goes on and cites many, many other studies highly suggestive of this fact that the state of hypnosis is truly an altered state of consciousness and can best be described in what we would call a “trance state.” Again, this is something that skeptics resist with all effort. You’ll see our old friend, Dr. Steve Novella, neurologist from Yale and host of The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe in his blog going out of his way to say not a trance state. Ordinary mental state.

They have to support this idea that consciousness isn’t real. When we come across things that seem like an altered state of consciousness, like hypnosis, there’s this real need to push it down in some way and give the promise that we’ll be able to track it all back to brain function. Just wait and it will all work out.

This might seem like an obscure argument, but when you sort through what’s really going on you see that this is at the center of this debate over hypnosis. But of course, that’s not what we’re really interested in here in this episode of Skeptiko. We’re asking the question can hypnosis be effective in recovering memory?

Really, the question that we asked before, is hypnosis an altered state of consciousness, is highly relevant to this other question but let’s take it separately. That is, can hypnosis be effective in recovering memory? You have to be careful how you ask and who you ask this question. If you ask it to the Center for Inquiry, Scientific American, Atheist crowd you’re going to be led down this road and told a lot about false memory, how memories are implanted in people who are highly suggestible and therefore we’ve got to throw all this hypnosis and memory stuff out the window.

Some of what they’re telling you is definitely true. False Memory Syndrome, implanted memories are real. It really does happen. But what they aren’t going to tell you is that there are many, many studies that suggest people have this remarkable ability to recover memories under hypnosis that they couldn’t otherwise remember. During some of the research I did before this show, I ran across a couple of researchers at the University of Liverpool in England. They’re just one among a number of researchers who have done a lot of good, solid research on this and found different ways that forensic psychologists can use hypnosis effectively to help witnesses recover evidence.

There are all sorts of these cases. People that can’t remember faces are able to. People that can’t remember license plates are able to. The police have been able to follow up with that license plate, find out information, get convictions; all of this has been not only proven in cases but it’s been proven clinically in labs. They test people with different kinds of induction techniques, different populations. There’s just tons of research out there. It’s very easy to find. Go to Google Scholar and start searching for it and you’ll find many, many studies.

At the end of the day, the only conclusion that you can come to is that while false memory is true, it’s also a reality that the hypnotic state is very effective for recovering lost memories.

Of course, the other thing that our skeptical friends don’t want to talk about is that we don’t really know how memory works anyway. As we’ve talked about on this show, we have some very solid evidence that suggests that this idea that all memory is stored in the cells of your brain isn’t real. We have that from the near-death experience research where people die and they have memories during a period when they had no brain. That’s overwhelming evidence.

So there are a lot of questions. The answers are messy. They don’t tightly fit.

Are there false memories? There appear to be false memories.

Is there a reality to recovered memories? There seems to be a reality to recovered memories.

Is there an ability we have to create illusions and fantasies? Absolutely.

Is it possible that some of the illusions and fantasies that people are creating have some kind of allegorical or metaphorical meaning that is true on another level? I don’t know; that’s far beyond the realm of what we’re trying to nail down here, but I think all those questions must be then thrown on the table if we dig a little bit deeper past this skeptical silliness.

So since we’re trying to figure out what’s really going on we might want to give a listen to people who are out there at the edge doing this work like today’s guest, Jean-Charles Chabot. Fascinating guy who I really enjoyed talking with.

 

Today we welcome Jean-Charles Chabot to Skeptiko. Jean-Charles is a hypnotherapist based in Montreal who specializes in regression therapy. I came across his work through several of his excellent YouTube videos that actually show him doing past life and between life regressions in a clinical setting in his office in Montreal. Fascinating stuff.

Jean-Charles, welcome to Skeptiko. Thanks so much for joining me.

Jean-Charles Chabot:  Hi, Alex.

Alex Tsakiris:   Tell folks a little about what you do, what your practice is all about, some of this work you do in regression therapy.

Jean-Charles Chabot:   Basically I specialize in what we call “spiritual hypnosis,” which includes past life regression, life between life regression—we’ll talk a bit about that—and also I specialize in what we call “street hypnosis,” or impromptu hypnosis as I prefer to call it. With street hypnosis, some people have this negative idea about it. I also do what we call “therapeutic hypnosis,” which can include regression but also just therapeutic techniques to help with phobias or to stop smoking and stuff like that.

Alex Tsakiris:   I think in reviewing your website, I don’t have a lot of experience in hypnosis but I was quite impressed by your credentials, by your training. Tell us a little bit about your background and specifically who you’ve trained with to develop your practice.

Jean-Charles Chabot:   My background, I have a Master’s in education. I also have a Bachelor’s in career counseling. After my Master’s in education I went to China for five years doing corporate training, soft skills training where I was training about confidence building, presentation skills, meeting skills, emotional intelligence skills, stuff like that.

I’ve always been interested in hypnosis for a long, long time actually. I started to read books and even integrate group hypnosis sessions in my training, which was really cool. But at some point I wanted to learn more about this and be trained in this. In 2008, when I was still in China, I went to the United States to study first with Cal Banyan, a very famous hypnotist in California. That’s where it all started.

What was really interesting with this training was that Cal was the normal clinical hypnotist but he also had this spiritual part where he created this technique called “the informing soul,” which is bringing the person before their incarnation to go and get knowledge. So I was like, oh, that’s interesting.

I was in China for five years so every year and a half or so I would go back to Montreal to see my parents and see my family. One day I went to the basement to look for something and it was on a very high shelf. I was trying to grab it—I don’t remember what it was—but there was a book on the left that fell down. I was like, oh, that’s strange. So I picked up the book and it was Michael Newton’s book, Journey of Souls. He is a bit like a pioneer in this work and I had just started reading this. Inside of me was like a click or something. I just wanted to do this. I needed to do this. This was what we call my “calling.”

At that point, I started to read a lot of books and started to get trained with all of the best guys in this field, whether it was the Newton Institute, Dolores Cannon, Brian Weiss, and I basically went to train with all these big people and analyzed what their techniques were and the principles behind their techniques to create my own approach to past life regression and between life regression.

Alex Tsakiris:   It’s obviously very controversial to a lot of people. As I mentioned when we were chatting a little bit beforehand, what I thought we might do to lead people up into an awareness or being a little bit more receptive to the possibility that there is some reality to what you’re talking about—it really is going to be mind-blowing to a lot of people—I thought it might be helpful to go over some of the basics of hypnosis. While on your YouTube channel I saw some other presentations that you’ve done. You’ve done some amazing work. You’ve studied with all these different hypnotherapists; you’ve also set up an institute, the Institute for Spiritual Hypnosis. Is that right?

Jean-Charles Chabot:   Yes, it’s the International Institute for Spiritual Hypnosis. The goal is to do research. What people may be interested to know is that I’m also a very rational and scientific person in my personality. I also collaborate with the PsychoNeuro Institute in Montreal, where we have started to do research using brain waves to see what happens when people are in hypnosis, when they have a spiritual experience.

So that’s why the Institute was created to do research and also to do training of people, especially in French. There are not a lot of people doing past life regressions or life between life regressions who have the skills to do it well. We’re probably going to talk in a few moments about how there are some really important skills required to do this in a good way.

Alex Tsakiris:   I definitely want to get to that. I want to take just a minute and back up and talk about what you just said. I think it’s important that you are taking this very scientific approach to this work and you’re trying to meld that with the spiritual aspect, which is much more difficult to pin down scientifically.

I thought what we might talk about, for someone who is totally coming at this cold, is review the experimental underpinnings of hypnosis. A lot of people don’t realize that there are hundreds and hundreds of clinical, experimental work that’s been done with all kinds of hypnosis in all kinds of medical situations. So anyone who Googles “hypnosis” on Google Scholar where there are these scholarly papers will be pointed to that.

Maybe you just want to start with the very basics with does hypnosis really work? Is it used clinically? Is it used in hospitals? Is it used in medical situations?

Jean-Charles Chabot:   For sure. I often find it interesting when I meet people and they say, “I don’t know if I believe in it.” Today, if someone is slightly curious and goes on the Web, there is tons of clinical research that’s been done.

What I think is the most impressive and convincing is in regards to pain control. That’s probably the branch of hypnosis that has the most research and is most convincing in the way that you cannot fake not having pain, okay? It’s not something you can pretend that you have pain if you have an operation. There are even some clips I’ve seen of an operation on the head and the person talking to the interviewer.

There’s stuff with pain control either to reduce pain or to take away pain completely depending on the receptivity of the subject. But that’s the area that is most convincing and what proves that it really works. There are specific courses for dentists, for doctors, anesthesiologists to use these hypnosis principles at work to prove that it really is not a belief, it’s a state, and it really works.

Alex Tsakiris:   One thing I’ve encountered is a lot of times people are aware or educated to a certain extent to the reality of hypnosis being used medically or they have a friend who’s used it for weight loss or cessation of smoking or something like that. They know it’s out there; they know there is some clinical proof to it. But then when you start talking about regression they’re like, oh, but that’s way, way out there.

What I thought was interesting in one of the presentations I saw you give is you connected the fact that regression is often a common technique used in other kinds of hypnotherapy. Can you talk a little bit about that and what role regression plays in hypnotherapy?

Jean-Charles Chabot:   Basically, regression is one technique among many others that can be used when we do pure therapeutic hypnosis. What regression is, is going back to an event or something that happened–usually between zero and seven years old but doesn’t have to be—to go back to the source. In hypnosis we call it the “ISE,” the Initial Sensitizing Event, where it all started.

There are many ways to do regression, as well. People have to understand you can regress on a feeling; you can regress on a thought, on a belief, going back to an important moment. There are many ways of regressing, of giving the unconscious instructions to go back to a certain time. A very useful way of doing regression is either connecting to an uncomfortable feeling or something that the person wants to resolve. Just have the unconscious to go all the way back to the source where it all started, like to the cause of that.

It’s really interesting because I’ve had people who say, “I don’t know where it comes from. I have this fear of water. It must come from a past life.” It’s important to understand that it’s not because the person doesn’t remember that it necessarily means it’s in a past life. I always tell people, “Listen, we’ll bring you to an altered state of consciousness and we’ll ask your unconscious mind to bring you back to the cause. If it’s a past life, it’s a past life. If it’s when you’re young, it’s when you’re young.”

Very often something happened when they’re young and they just unconsciously blocked or forgot and we reconnect to that which is really interesting because it’s something they consciously have totally forgotten.

Alex Tsakiris:   Can you give us a quick example of a case where that’s happened? I’m sure you have many in your therapy. And then how that resolved something for someone—that there was a memory from early in life and they forgot about it and then once they remembered it, it resolved some phobia for them.

Jean-Charles Chabot:   I’ll give you a couple of examples, one with regression in this life, and past life, okay? Regression—for example, a person had a fear of spiders. She said, “I don’t remember anything about what could explain this fear of spiders.” She couldn’t get close to a spider. So I brought her into an altered state of consciousness and I asked the unconscious mind to go back.

Sometimes even if we ask the unconscious mind to go back to the source or the origin it doesn’t always go there first, so we have to ask again. So the first event the person went to was when she was young, lying beside a pool. She’d just gotten out of the water and there were drops of water dripping down her body. At some point there was some itching and there was a spider there. She just freaked at that point.

Then what we usually do is we can ask the person a question, and say, “I don’t want you to think. I want you to feel. Does this emotion feel new like omigod, what is this? Or does it feel familiar, like oh, not again?”

It was familiar to her so I said, “Okay, now we’re going all the way back to the source.” What was very interesting was that she was about two years old and she was playing with a spider that was on her. When you’re one or two years old it doesn’t matter, right? It’s just a spider; there’s nothing wrong. She takes the spider and she puts it in her mouth. For a kid, no problem. But the problem was when the mother saw this and said, “No!” And then, boom, association of spider and dangerous, spider bad, mommy doesn’t like it so I shouldn’t like it. That’s where it all started.

It’s very interesting when you have things like that that you understand where it comes from and you can do some techniques. One technique among others is the “informed child,” where you instruct the child what he would have needed to know to be conditioned by this and then we eradiate this knowledge. There are many things you can do.

Alex Tsakiris:   Were you able to help her over her phobia, then?

Jean-Charles Chabot:   Oh, yeah. It was really interesting because afterwards for me, I like to test my work. Afterwards we went into the basement looking for spiders. We found some little spiders and she could have them on her finger and she was like, “Omigod, I never did that before.” It was really amazing.

I said, “Okay, let’s take it a step higher. Let’s go to the pet shop. I had in mind like these tarantulas, those big spiders. I didn’t know they were really dangerous, so I just went to the counter and asked if it was possible to look at the tarantulas, to clear it with them. The people at the counter were like, “I’m not touching this. They can sting; they can really hurt. They won’t kill you but they can really, really hurt.” I was like, “Okay.”

Then the owner came and said, “Oh, they’re really nice. As long as you don’t do anything that irritates them, like blowing on them or sudden moves or stuff, it’s all fine.” So he took a spider and told her to put her hand like a bridge. The spider came and she just had this amazing feeling of omigod, this is amazing. She could do it without any problem.

Alex Tsakiris:   One of the things in your presentation that I found just fascinating, and maybe this will lead into the second story that you’re going to tell, is I’ve seen a presentation with Michael Newton where he confirms the same thing. Michael Newton, as you just mentioned, being a real pioneer in this idea of past life and between life therapy. Sometimes this past life regression will just happen spontaneously. So a therapist can just run across this even if they aren’t open to the idea of someone being in a past life. They’ll just go there.

Jean-Charles Chabot:   Exactly. To be honest, Alex, that’s the part I would say that convinced me or attracted me because it’s something that’s totally independent of the hypnotherapist and the client. Even if the hypnotherapist doesn’t believe in past lives or the client doesn’t believe in past lives, when he’s in that state of hypnosis and we give suggestion and the way and why it comes spontaneously is that when we ask to go back to the source, to the cause of the problem.

I’ve met quite a few hypnotherapists that before they didn’t believe in past lives. They weren’t even open to it. But if you do regression as a technique—not all hypnotherapists use regression—when I took my course they said, “Whether you believe it or not, it’s going to happen. So here’s what you do when it happens, even if you don’t believe it.”

You just ask the unconscious mind to go all the way back to the source. Sometimes the person might have a fear of water and will start saying, “I’m drowning. What’s happening? It’s 1623 and blah, blah.” That’s where it came from, the source, the origin, because everything we experience as a soul—here we’re starting to use more spiritual concepts—the unconscious mind has access to. That’s why it’s very fascinating. If you do regression going back to the source, it will happen maybe 2%-3% of the time but it does happen even if people don’t believe in it which is really interesting.

Alex Tsakiris:   Can you think of a case where that happened to you where you weren’t necessarily trying to lead someone into a past life and they spontaneously went into a past life? How would you recognize that they were in a past life?

Jean-Charles Chabot:   We recognize when they’re in a past life when the setting is totally different. For example—and this has happened a lot—sometimes people have pain, like back pain that they don’t know where it came from. So I just connect them with the back pain and going back to the source where it all started, and the person just pops into a battlefield. Somebody is stabbing them. You know that’s not in their present life because they’re not soldiers. Sometimes they died that way.

I don’t understand everything—that’s why I’m interested. How can that memory be? How does it work? We don’t know much about it but we know that there seems to be something connecting and having influence from a past life to present life. That’s really fascinating when it happens spontaneously, especially if the client doesn’t come to me for past life regression.

Today I would say it’s more rare that it happens spontaneously because I specialize in spiritual hypnosis so people come to me for past life regression. Even if they come to me and say there’s this pain or this fear or unexplained emotion that they don’t know where it comes from, it must come from the past life, we have to be really careful. It may not be true. It would not be professional for the hypnotist to say to the unconscious, “Now go all the way back to a past life where this pain came from.” That’s the typical mistake that some hypnotists who are not really qualified will make. We cannot make this assumption, basically.

Alex Tsakiris:   There are a lot of open areas that need a lot of further research, as you just alluded to, and it sounds like something you’re open to. One thing I want to do in this discussion is nail down some of the open mysteries and also some of the myths associated with hypnosis.

As I was mentioning to you a minute ago, I do want to get past the fluffy white cotton stuff because you can Google “hypnosis” and you’ll get a lot of it’s safe, there’s never anything bad that’s going to happen, you’ll remember everything, and all this. I don’t know, this may be true to a certain extent but I sometimes feel when I read that that it belies the power of the tool. If hypnosis can do all these amazing things then it can’t be all those other things, too.

So in that spirit can we really tell it like it is about the reality of hypnosis? I guess I’d start with can we ever get someone to do something under hypnosis that is against their will, whatever that means? Of course you can. Some people you can get to do some things against their will. That seems to be self-evident from the fact that hypnosis works.

Jean-Charles Chabot:   Yeah, exactly. That’s what usually we see in stage hypnosis or street hypnosis. Like giving the suggestion that you’re stuck in your chair and you can’t get up and even if you try it doesn’t work. So that’s an example of it being against their will. They really consciously try and they can’t, okay? But that happens because a part of the person is okay with that. Unconsciously it’s not threatening, it’s not life-threatening. They’re open to the experience in some way.

What is most controversial is can you make somebody do something against their values or that they wouldn’t even want to do. Getting stuck on a chair, there’s nothing bad related to that. But to take advantage of someone by stealing something from them or stuff like that–a lot of hypnotherapists will tell their clients, “You will never do something that you don’t want to do,” something against their values.

But the truth, Alex, is it’s not true. If you have some hypnotist who is ill-intentioned, he could take advantage. You never see this in a hypnotherapy setting because if the hypnotherapist would steal or do something like that, the client would come back. My advice to people would be to make sure you’re not alone, you’re with friends, and that you trust the person.

I’m going to explain to you why it works. In hypnosis the strength comes from being in control of the frame of reality that we present to the person. I know a hypnotherapist who even did research in the street to see if we can really make someone do something that they wouldn’t want to do normally. He did do some stuff and one thing that he did is hypnotize somebody to steal their coat. The hypnotherapist would get their coat.

You bring the person under hypnosis and you give the suggestion, “The next time your eyes open you will give me your coat.” Internally there’s something against their values, like that’s my coat, not your coat. There would be more resistance, okay? But if the hypnotherapist said, “On the count of three your eyes will open and you will realize that the coat you’re wearing is my coat and you’ll feel really bad about wearing my coat and you’ll just give it back to me.” When you frame it like this, it doesn’t go against their values.

That’s where things can happen. Most hypnotherapists don’t talk about this because they don’t want to scare their clients. I prefer to tell the truth. It is possible in hypnotherapy sessions but it doesn’t happen. The person would remember. Even if the hypnotherapist gave the suggestion that they will forget, amnesia is not very stable for these kinds of things. It wouldn’t be worth the risk of the client remembering that I stole something or did anything bad.

I don’t want to scare people but as you mentioned, it’s not all pink and happy and nothing can happen. If you’re with the person in the street who has bad intentions, they could do something. That’s why my advice to people is if you’re in the street and you have a hypnotherapist come to you, make sure you have friends around and that you get a good feeling from the person.

The other thing I want to bring up is, especially during regression, the thing with false memories. That’s something that can do damage. If the hypnotherapist is well-trained, that’s fine, but we have to understand that in hypnosis a person is really receptive. What is very important in all regression training is making the mistake of doing what we call “inappropriate leading.” Have you heard of this?

Alex Tsakiris:   Just casually. I think it’s an important topic to talk about because touching on what you just said before, I certainly don’t want to scare anyone away from this valuable tool. But on the same token, I think we have to honor the power of this tool and we shouldn’t diminish it by saying, “Oh, it’s just easily maneuvered or easily understood,” because it’s not.

I think this other area that you’re getting into is very controversial and it is very scary for people, this idea that they could be so open and so receptive that they could be implanted with memories that aren’t real and that could harm them by destroying their idea of who they are by what they remember. So what is the real scoop on that, Jean-Charles ?

Jean-Charles Chabot:   Well, to avoid creating any false memories, the hypnotist has to be really careful as not to impose his own presupposition into the client’s experience. I’ll give you a classic example of why in the past hypnosis was taken to court and it was discredited.

Let’s say, for example, a client comes to a hypnotist and says, “I want to see if I was abused when I was young.” A bad hypnotist would bring the person into an altered state of consciousness and would say, “Now I’m going to count from three down to one and then you’re going to go all the way back to the time when you were abused.” Presupposition that they were abused. This is a big mistake and a big no-no in regression. You don’t want to presuppose that they were abused. But if the hypnotist is not skilled and is trying to explore, the client could potentially create an experience which is not true.

That’s why this is called inappropriate leading. Inappropriate leading can be done in different ways. If you go back to when you were a child and you’re eating food and having fun and throwing food on the floor and stuff like that, and if the hypnotherapist says, “Oh, your parents must not be very happy about this,” this is leading. A good hypnotherapist would say, “How do your parents feel about this,” if it’s relevant, of course. That’s just an example.

When I do certification for the Institute, which is contrary to some other schools, they have to prove they have good skills to do regression. It can be very subtle. For example, if the person goes back to an event, not necessarily in childhood, or where someone is dying, or a ceremony with everything happening, and then if the hypnotist says, “Oh, and how do you feel as you are there,” as if implying they should feel bad, this kind of leading could be bad.

People have to understand it’s not as fragile, even if you do leading mistakes. People will tell you, “Oh, this is not happening,” and they will correct you if you have a presupposition. I don’t want to scare people. It’s like if you have a hypnotherapist who does a lot of leading mistakes, there’s a chance that a false memory could be created and we don’t want that.

Alex Tsakiris:   What you’re suggesting is also challenging in a way because we just don’t know how all this stuff really works. Here you are, you’re a very skilled practitioner, and you can reliably get certain results but it does seem like in these other areas that we don’t know why people would confabulate and form a false memory. Why would the mind work like that? These are open questions, right?

Jean-Charles Chabot:   Yeah, and I’m really glad you brought that up. There are basically two types of regression. There’s present life regression and past life and between lives regression.

Past life is usually done in childhood and in the past. What’s very important and is often taboo, I would say, in past life training is people take for granted it should be all true. I don’t think it’s true that all memories accessed are necessarily real past life. I do believe that there is a lot that is real. If we’re purely logical, rational, we should only accept if we can verify some things. I’ve had clients verify information about stuff that you can’t read in the journals or in little villages buried a long time ago and you find information.

It does happen but what also can happen is that the unconscious may create a metaphor for the individual to either understand or release something. It doesn’t have to be less important or even powerful. I’ve had clients who truly believe metaphors because metaphors are different from past life. There’s more symbolism and stuff like that and it doesn’t feel true.

I’ve been doing this for a while so I can get a feel of both. But the person just changed, like a deep change. The unconscious, even through dreams, can communicate with symbols, with metaphors. That’s the language of the unconscious. If the unconscious mind chooses to give, instead of giving access to a past life, a metaphor to either release something or help understand something, that’s fine.

We have to get away from whether it’s real or not. How is it beneficial for the individual? What can be used to either understand or the therapeutic benefits of this instead of just focusing on whether it was real or not. That’s not the real question when you do this kind of work with the intention of self-growth.

Alex Tsakiris:   I love the way you handle that because I love the openness to all the different possibilities that might exist and at the same time your rigor and focus about how we should approach it in terms of results. With that as a background, take people through what typically happens in a past life or between life regression. I’m not sure how those would be different. Why would someone come to you for that? And then typically what they would experience during that kind of session.

Jean-Charles Chabot:   I guess I’ll start by making the difference between past life regression and in-between life regression. Past life regression, most people know is going back to another incarnation where they have a different body, different name, different time, different physiology. You don’t necessarily look like what you look like today. You can be a different gender.

The reason why we may be interested in doing past lives is to either understand some things in your present life, like where some situation or illness or pain or whatever comes from, or emotions that you don’t know where they come from. It can be to release blockages. It can also be to re-access some resources or states that you’ve had that would be beneficial for you. An example of that would be someone who has very low self-esteem in this lifetime.

Also, what’s important to mention is the way I work. I always ask the higher consciousness to bring the person back to a lifetime that has a lot of influence on their present life. I tell people, “Whatever you’ve been told about past lives, we put it on the side.” There are a lot of psychics telling stuff. Sometimes it may be true; sometimes it’s not. So I tell people that they just say what their higher consciousness wants to show them, to help them in some way.

So the person will access a past life that would have significance on their present life to either understand—or coming back to the self-confidence thing, I had a client recently where she was really confident in her past life. She was not a big title or a popular person but she had this confidence. It created a resource inside of her that she could feel in all the cells of her body. It really created a resource that afterwards she could feel it would be easier to tap into. So that’s an example of why someone would do past life.

Now life between lives is less understood and is even more complex. Basically in-between lives is what happens after we die in the past life. In a typical process—although there are other ways of doing it—you would go back to a past life and bring the person to the death scene and go after the death. That’s where it’s really interesting because there are a lot of similarities between NDE experiences, people who report a near-death experience, and also what happens at death, separating from the body, sometimes going through a tunnel or going somewhere where there’s light, meeting beings and all this.

There may be many reasons why someone may be interested in that. It can be to reconnect with their spiritual nature. I don’t know if you’ve heard the expression, we’re not human beings having a spiritual experience. We’re a spiritual being having a human experience. I would say in a nutshell that’s basically what this process does. It helps people to reconnect with their spiritual aspect of themselves. It could be to reconnect with what we call the “life mission,” or the “life contract.” In this frame of mind, there is a reason why we would incarnate. There are some things we want to resolve or to do or some qualities to develop to grow as a soul. That’s the principle behind this.

I don’t like the term “life mission.” I’m probably going to change that because a lot of people think “mission” is a big mission, I came here to change the world. I prefer to use the term “contract” because it can be something very simple. It might not have anything to do professionally. It may be to learn to forgive, learn to assert yourself, learn a quality like this. It doesn’t have to be this big thing that life mission sometimes triggers in people. Life mission is to understand why you’re here, basically. Why you incarnated…

Alex Tsakiris:   Like life suggestions or recommendations.

Jean-Charles Chabot:   Yeah, yeah. Like to reconnect with what you decided to do when you came into this incarnation to help you move forward on that path. Some people, it can be to reconnect with the nature of what we call “spirit guides.” Sometimes people call it “angels.” It’s really fascinating when people connect with a guide and they have this experience of unconditional love. You see stuff when you do this work. Sometimes I even cry.

Clients will report very often feelings of unconditional love that they’ve never felt in their incarnation. It’s something really profound. And also to reconnect with their true nature. There’s Alex, there’s Rachelle, there’s our masks, these rental cars that we have through our lifetimes. Then when we start to connect even slightly with the essence, this spark or light inside of you, this timeless kind of self in some ways, people feel an expansion and they can have a transformative experience of their whole perception.

What we have to understand is when you have these experiences it really can change many things. For example, if someone had a parent who was very unloving, very tough on the client when he was young, then you go back in-between lives and find out he had a contract with that soul who had given him trouble so that he could reconnect himself with the feeling of self-love and have a growth experience.

When you really understand the contract it really helps with forgiveness but also at the highest level you can even have gratitude for that soul to have been on your path and to have given you that much trouble so that it could trigger some qualities or competencies that you wouldn’t have developed if you had just had loving parents. That makes a huge switch in someone’s mind.

It can also be used to get rid of a fear of dying by just going through a past life and dying. I remember in Colorado I had a person who was an engineer, really rational, was questioning a lot.

“I don’t know if I’m making this up or not.”

“That’s fine, just keep going.”

We arrived at the death scene and she just started crying and goes deeper at that point. What I didn’t know even before we talked, was the person had a really deep fear of death and her husband would say that she wouldn’t even go a week without talking about it. She was really into this. We were all eating together and she said to her husband, “You know what? I think I’m not afraid anymore.” He was just like, “What?”

It can help for the grief process. Another interesting thing that really surprised me as well is sometimes dead people, relatives, loved ones can sometimes connect and have interactions that help to free and help forgiveness. There are many, many things that can happen in these types of life between life experiences.

Alex Tsakiris:   It’s amazing. I have to say, I think for a lot of people it’s a lot to take in. Very challenging on so many levels. In the little bit of time we have left, I want to touch on a couple of things. I think it’s very important and I love this approach that you have of coming back to the measurable facts that your clients have. They’re either better or they’re not better. I think for the person who’s more cynical or skeptical they’ll go, “Well, those are just anecdotes.” I don’t think that’s true.

I think in a therapeutic session this is what we measure all the time. If you’re a psychotherapist, a psychoanalyst, you’re doing therapy and people are either better or they’re not better based on how they report. We compare that to drugs. We can give someone drugs to overcome grief; we can give them antidepressants to overcome grief. We can give them psychotherapy to overcome grief. Or we can give them a past life or between life regression therapy and we could measure that.

So it always amazes me when people want to dismiss it and slide it off the table and say, “That’s not scientific. We can’t measure it.” Of course we can measure it. We measure that kind of stuff all the time to find out what is most efficacious. So if you have anything to add to that, great.

Then the last thing I want to really get on is what the heck does this mean? This is challenging in so many ways. Soul contract, life groups, life missions. It’s not about this life, it’s about the next life. How does someone figure this stuff out? Figure out how to incorporate this into their worldview? How are your clients making that leap of understanding?

Jean-Charles Chabot:   The clients that I see are usually open to reincarnation, to these principles or these concepts of having a soul group, having a life mission, and all this. But what is most interesting is when you have clients who don’t believe in it—and I guess this is a point that is worth mentioning. I have had clients who come into the office and say, “You know what? I’m very skeptical.”

I say, “That’s fine.”

Alex Tsakiris:   Or “My wife made me come,” or “My husband made me come.”

Jean-Charles Chabot:   Yeah. And I tell people that as long as they’re open to having an experience then it’s fine. Because if the person wants to prove it’s not going to work or doesn’t want to believe that it’s possible, then they’re going to block the experience. They’re not going to follow your suggestions and they’re not going to let it happen.

But if the person says to me, “You know what? I’m very skeptical but I’m open,” that’s perfect. When you have these people who haven’t read a lot about this stuff, who are very skeptical and who have these really profound experiences, not only on the spot are they very meaningful and very touching and all this but it goes into the rest of their life. Things change in their life. Their interactions with other and themselves. Perceptions of the world. There are really noticeable changes that take place on many, many levels. Sometimes even at levels that you haven’t touched during the session, which is really interesting.

I had a chiropractor who came to see me who had this really deep pain. We did past life, between life work. I always ask the higher consciousness to do healing and stuff but I wasn’t specific toward the pain. I didn’t even know about it. The guy just reported the day after, “You know what? This pain that I’ve had for years is gone.”

We don’t understand it, Alex. We don’t understand exactly how it works. It’s a bit like a car. We know how to drive, and some people know how cars work, but you don’t need to know how the car works to use the car. So it’s very fascinating.

There are big changes in the world and more people are open now and I get clients who are not even into spirituality. They’re just very sincere about knowing more about themselves. I think in the future this kind of spiritual hypnosis will be more and more popular because for therapists like psychologists—in my classes I have psychologists, doctors who don’t want to be on the website but they want to use it personally with their clients.

I don’t know how it is in the States but it’s a bit more touchy. It just gives you a broader sense of the situation with the client, the karmic influences, why they’re here. So if they have this problem and you can manage to get a wider view it’s just more helpful overall to help the client.

Alex Tsakiris:   We will definitely have a link to a couple of your websites. In the little bit of time we have left, tell folks how they might get in contact with you if they’re interested in this or want to learn more about it or want to watch some of your excellent YouTube videos.

Jean-Charles Chabot:   If you just search for  jean-charles chabot, there aren’t too many people with that name on YouTube. It should be quite easy.

I have my English www.life-between-lives.ca. This is my personal English website. Also there’s a website in French for the Institute which is www.hypnosespirituelle.com.. If people want to connect with me it can also be infohypnose@jchabot.com. That’s my email address.

I’m really busy and it’s like months in advance to have an appointment but at the Institute I train people and I’ve chosen a few people who are really qualified. So if people want to start with a past life regression with some of the people I’ve trained it’s also possible.

Alex Tsakiris:   It’s really great work and it’s been terrific covering the many topics that we did. I really appreciate you coming on. Thanks so much for joining me today on Skeptiko.

Jean-Charles Chabot:   Thank you, Alex. It was a pleasure.

 

 

 

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